During Big 12 media days, when Coach Kingsbury addressed the media and answered questions, one of the first questions he had was, "When do you expect to name a starter at QB?" Kingsbury answered, "fairly early in camp". Well camp has come and gone and as of now, Kingsbury still has not named a starter at QB.
The Red Raiders ended Fall Camp today with a 95 play scrimmage which saw both the offense and defense get the better of the other throughout the scrimmage. This is what you would hope, but praise for either unit wasn't especially grand. Much of the talk centered around how the energy of the players was, how much better prepared they were and how they were "flying around". We've heard great things from all three units throughout camp, but the biggest takeaway for me, was how hungry the players are to erase last year's 4-8. Something that many have said has been hanging over them all year.
Now, let's hit the biggest three takeaways on the last day of camp.
1. Still no answer on who starts at QB
Though it seemed that Mahomes got most of the snaps with first team... or at least was first in line for snaps, Kingsbury made it clear on day one to reporters that both Mahomes and Webb were pretty even when it came to number of snaps. But through it all, has been non-committal on who the starter would be. Fans hoped for an answer after the Spring Game or even the end of Spring Practice, but no such luck. Fans then waited for Fall camp as it was made clear, a starter would be named early on.
Normally, even without saying it, a coach knows who his starter is. It's a gut feeling. Kingsbury probably knew at the end of the Baylor game last year. I'm fairly certain he knew at the Spring game and I'm almost certain he knows now. So why isn't he naming the starter. Kingsbury gave his typical coach speak when addressing the position battle saying, "all of the quarterbacks have raised the level of play for each other, which is what I wanted".
My guess is he's snakebit. He's afraid that if he names Mahomes the starter, there is a good chance Webb transfers. He saw it happen with Mayfield. He saw Stidham decommit right before signing day. He saw another QB decommit this recruiting year before landing Jetty Duffy and for a coach who is supposed to be a QB savant, Kingsbury's luck with QB's to date while in Lubbock hasn't been great.
That being said, Davis Webb doesn't seem to be the type to transfer just because he loses out on the job. (And to be fair, there is still a good chance Webb ends up the starter, though most fans would revolt if that were the case). Webb is more of the kind to want to win the job outright like he did in 2013. He'll bide his time and seize the opportunity should it present itself.
No matter the reason, if Kingsbury waits until gametime on Sept 5, that might be worse than just declaring the starter right now. And if you're looking for an indication which way Kingsbury is leaning, the longer he waits the more Mahomes is the starter.
2. How did the defense look?
The defense gave up a few big plays. They looked especially vulnerable to the screen, because of their more aggressive mindset and on occasion gave up a big play downfield. Though shaky at times, the defense did get more than a few sacks on both Mahomes and Webb, which should be a great sign especially against one of the better offensive lines in the country. But in hearing from the coaches and players, it seemed that the new look Defense didn't do quite as well as expected. DE Branden Jackson said the defense left a lot of "things" on the field that they will need to capitalize on.
3. How did the offense look?
Other than not knowing who the starting QB is, the offensive unit looked to win the day during the end of camp scrimmage. Offensive Coordinator Eric Morris, said "Collectively, as a group, it's as good as we've played since I've been here." That should be outstanding news to an offensive group that hasn't been able to take advantage of opportunities near as much as the staff would like. Grant, Washington and Stockton looked great in space and as explosive as ever. Freshman, Donta Thompson also had a good catch and broke a tackle going into the endzone showing flashes of promise and may get him into the mix at wide receiver instead of being redshirted.
Until the September 5th it's all lip-service on how this team is going to play. Last year, the buzz around this team was so great I think the vaunted 2008 squad would have a hard time reaching those expectations. That's how hungry Texas Tech as a whole is ready for a return to prominence. This year, it's been noticeably quieter in Lubbock as picked up on by numerous new sources. Not because Kingsbury is any less confident, but in a way to keep his players from buying the hype.
In two weeks we should get some answers. In the meantime keep an eye open for my season prediction on the 28th and let me know your takeaways from Fall camp in the comments below. Have a question for me? Send them to me via twitter @avcoachsmith and I'll answer them in a post each week.